Watch: Why did a herd of elephants recently travel 500 kms in China?

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: Jun 02, 2021, 04:39 PM(IST)

Herd of elephants Photograph:( Twitter )

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A protected species in China, this herd of wild Asian elephants, for reasons yet unknown, has strayed from the Xishuangbanna national nature reserve in Yunnan province

In China, a herd of 15 wild Asian elephants have captured national attention. They travelled 500 kilometres over the course of the last few weeks. Walking through forests, highways and even urban areas and have now reached the outskirts of Kunming city in Southern Yunnan.

A protected species in China, this herd of wild Asian elephants, for reasons yet unknown has strayed from the Xishuangbanna national nature reserve in Yunnan province.

As per the government, the group initially had 16 elephants, but two drifted away to return to the forest reserve and a baby was born during the walk.

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According to China’s state news agency, Xinhua, the herd was about 20 km from Kunming, in Yuxi, a city of seven million. Officials from the city have issued early warnings and have been scampering to evacuate citizens to minimise damage to inhabited areas around the city’s border.

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Drone images show that the herd is made up of six females, three male adults, three juveniles and three calves.

Multiple attempts by forest officials, who have been following the herd, to divert them away from populated areas by putting up temporary blockades, have proven to be a failure.

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Until Tuesday, more than 360 people, 76 police cars and dirt trucks and nine drones were mobilised in an endeavour to divert the herd. In addition, 18 tonnes of elephant food have been prepared to lure the elephants away from populated areas but to no avail.

The herd passed through several counties, at times wandering into villages and towns, where the sight of these majestic creatures triggered both awe and alarm. Roads had to be cleared, traffic halted on the roads taken by the herd.

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A journey that the herd started in mid-April has now lasted weeks, a distance of 500 kilometres (or 300 miles) and destruction of around 56 hectares of crops, which caused an estimated 6.8m yuan ($1.07m) in losses.

As of yet, no casualties have been reported, with locals attempting to guide the animals with food and blocking roads with trucks.

In recent years, there have been more reports of similar cases of elephants wandering into villages and harming crops. According to local officials, amid forest expansion, with the plants these animals usually consume gradually getting replaced by non-edible varieties, herds tend to stray looking for food sources.

(With inputs from agencies)

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